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Copper Turns Higher As Middle East Concerns Abate

January 8, 2020 at 20:11 by Andrew Moran

Copper futures are settling higher midweek after Middle East worries diminished following President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House. The red metal is also gaining on lower inventories that may add credence to forecasts of a global supply deficit that could lift copper prices above the $3 mark over the next 12 to 18 months.

March copper futures picked up $0.0165, or 0.59%, to $2.81 per pound at 18:45 GMT on Wednesday on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Copper prices have rallied as much as 9% over the last three months, driven mostly by positive US-China trade developments.

The US president addressed the nation live from the White House on Wednesday and confirmed that Iran is “standing down.” Trump stated that he will “immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime” after Tehran responded to America’s killing of Qassem Soleimani by bombing its military bases in Iraq.

With fears about an escalation in Middle East tensions diminishing, global financial markets have breathed a sigh of relief. The news helped the S&P 500 hit an all-time high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq posted remarkable gains in the middle of the trading week.

On Tuesday, copper rallied on reports that stockpiles in London Metal Exchange-monitored warehouses have tumbled by as much as 60% since the end of August. Today, inventories total 142,900 tons, which is the lowest level in nearly a year.

Copper producers are ostensibly waiting for an official resolution on the trade front instead of taking the risk and raising output levels. Chile, engulfed in nationwide protests, witnessed its production slump as a result of supply disruptions at Codelco-owned mines and BHP’s Escondida mine. But there may be change on the way later this month as Washington and Beijing are scheduled to sign phase one of the comprehensive trade agreement next week.

Gains were limited on disappointment over Chinese data readings. The Caixin services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) clocked in at 52.5 last month, down from 53.5 in November. The composite PMI also slumped from 53.2 in November to 52.6 in December. These developments highlighted the private sector’s concerns over bearish economic conditions.

In other metal markets, February gold futures plunged $18.10, or 1.15%, to $1,554.10 per ounce. March silver futures plummeted $0.30, or 1.65%, to $18.09 an ounce. February platinum futures shed $12.40, or 1.28%, to $959.20 an ounce. February palladium futures skyrocketed $49.00, or 2.43%, to $2,063.30 an ounce.

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